Once upon a time, on the nineteenth night of February 2017, I had fallen fast asleep on my sofa. An issue of Sonic the Comic lay strewn out upon my face, its pages fluttering up and down in the makeshift breeze as my body gently breathed in and out. A fireplace roared away in the corner of the room as the quiet ticking of the grandfather clock permeated the silence. Eventually, the two hands pointed upwards and the simple staccato beats transformed into a melodic chime. A strange magic seemed to fill the air…
LEGO and Sonic the Hedgehog. Now there’s two things we never thought we’d see officially put together in the same product. Sure, maybe it’s not as earth-shattering a crossover as the Mario & Sonic series (I mean, who’d have ever seen that one coming, and at the Olympic Games no less?!), but it’s just as mind-bogglingly unthinkable. But, then again, almost anything is possible in the crazy world of TT Games’ LEGO Dimensions. You know what’s even crazier though? This bonkers mash-up of blue blurs and bricks is arguably the best thing to come out of Sonic’s 25th anniversary celebrations this year.
It’s often the case that you find hidden classics late into a games console’s life cycle – but they don’t come an awful lot later than this.
At the end of 2015, three years after it had been superseded by the Wii U, the last game for Nintendo’s phenomenally successful Wii console hit the shelves. Except it didn’t. Well, it did and it didn’t. That’s the thing about Rodea The Sky Soldier – it’s got a long and complicated development history that’s intriguing and baffling in equal measure. In short, the game was originally designed for the Wii, but was finished just as the new system was launching so was held back in favour of newly developed Wii U and 3DS versions instead. Now, courtesy of the Limited Edition set (still just about available on Nintendo’s UK Online Store) you can get both the Wii and Wii U versions of the game in one exclusive package. But, the question is: after all this time, has the game actually been worth the wait?
2010 was an interesting time to be a Sonic fan. At the start of the year, the franchise was at one of its lowest points, with jokes about the Sonic Cycle being thrown around every which way following the downward spiral of quality in the games – Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic 2006, Sonic and the Black Knight… even 2008’s Sonic Unleashed, the closest thing to a step in the right direction we’d seen, was critically panned and bogged down by poor design choices. Luckily, there seemed to be a shining ray of light on the horizon, one that the entire fanbase was clinging their hopes onto, something that promised to set the series back on track at last…
This past weekend I attended the Summer of Sonic 2016 convention at the ILEC Conference Centre in London, a day of celebrating all things Sonic the Hedgehog – organised by the fans, for the fans. This was actually my sixth time attending the convention over the years (out of a possible seven!), and though I missed out on the very first event in 2008, I’ve seen it grow from small and humble beginnings to becoming one of the community’s most prolific achievements. With Summer of Sonic’s “one more run” now over and fond memories left in the minds of many, I’d like to take a look back – not just to this year, but to all the years – to remember the good times that have always made it such an enjoyable fixture in the Sonic calendar.
Originally written in 2010 and 2012
Excerpt from my article for The Sonic Stadium regarding this exciting announcement!
What the brick?! We can’t believe it any more than you can, but it’s official – Sonic the Hedgehog will be making a surprise playable appearance in the block-buster toys-to-life game LEGO Dimensions!
Announced as part of the title’s E3 2016 trailer, Sonic is seen racing in at the very end of the video, grabbing a golden ring away from the hands of Lord of the Ring’s Gollum who had mistaken it for his precioussss… but we’re afraid there can only be one king of the ring around these parts! Gotta speed, keed!
Sonic joins famous franchises including Doctor Who, Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, The Simpsons, and Portal 2 for all manner of high octane thrills and spills in the ultimate LEGO crossover game. Other new franchises announced at E3 2016 include Harry Potter, Adventure Time, Mission Impossible, and even The A-Team… but I pity the fool who doesn’t want to play as Sonic!
It’s also worth mentioning that this isn’t the first time Sonic has starred in a title developed by TT Games, at least in its former guise as Traveller’s Tales. Can we expect to see some Sonic 3D Blast and Sonic R references in there somewhere, maybe…?
No details have been revealed yet regarding what form the content will take or when exactly it will be released, but we’re sure you’ll agree that this is certainly one heck of a way to get the 25th anniversary celebrations started!
To be continued…
Today marks the start of June, which means it’s finally the month of Sonic the Hedgehog’s 25th anniversary! Yes, everyone’s favourite speedy blue critter first raced onto SEGA consoles on 23rd June 1991, and while we’re still waiting for word of a new game to commemorate this landmark celebration, I’m going to take a look back at one of the most interesting games the series has ever offered up.
Back in 2011, when the Official Nintendo Magazine was still alive and well (rest in peace, old friend!), I contributed a short article to their online “My Favourite Game” feature which invited readers to write about a game which had left a highly positive impression on them. The best entries got published on their website, and lo and behold, on 31st July my submission appeared for all to see! At the time, it was the 20th anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog, so my mind instantly raced to that series for the topic of discussion – and particularly, one of the most surprisingly fun games in recent memory, Sonic Colours.
Since ONM’s demise, their website – and subsequently my article – has been lost to the depths of cyberspace, but luckily I copied and pasted the contents into a word document. So, for the sake of sharing my complete backlog and making it live once again, read on…
I can’t quite believe it, but this year marks the fifth anniversary of one of my first (and most prolific) serious writing challenges. For those who do not know, between 2009 and 2011 I organised the Sonic Relief charity campaigns that ran on The Sonic Stadium and various other related fan sites (in aid of Comic Relief, naturally). As well as a fundraising effort, it was a showcase of the creative talents in the Sonic community – so in 2011, after two years of encouraging other people to submit their fan art, videos, and so forth, I decided it was about time for me to put my own skills to the test for the drive’s third and final outing. Thus, Sonic: The Age of Steam was born.
Despite being labelled a short story, this is by far my longest effort to date. Consisting of six chapters, with the first released on 1st January 2011 and the rest then updated a few weeks apart up until March 2011, it drew inspiration from the Sonic Storybook games (namely, Sonic and the Secret Rings and Sonic and the Black Knight) by placing the world-famous blue hedgehog into a Victorian, almost Sherlock Holmes-esque environment. The working title for the project was “Steampunk Sonic” and, much to my delight, it received a very welcome and positive reception at the time. Fellow fans were keen to get involved by designing their own steampunk versions of classic Sonic characters (many of which I then integrated into the story), and all in all I feel it played an important part in spurring donations to reach the eventual grand total – over £1,000!
To celebrate five years since its initial release, I feel it only right to look back on my first major work and share it with a whole new audience of followers who might share my same passion and interest for the world of Sonic the Hedgehog and the age of steam. I enjoyed writing it so much that I actually started work on a sequel – The Age of Steam II: Curse of the Damned – but, due to one thing and another, I never found the time to finish it and only got as far as the prologue and first chapter. Nevertheless, if you want to see (and speculate further about) how the story would have continued, I’ve uploaded it what I’m dubbing the “prototype edition” of the sequel for your reading pleasure…
Last but not least, the official Sonic: The Age of Steam blog where the story was first released all those years ago is still alive and well – just in case anyone fancies experiencing the adventure in its original form!
Will I ever return to the world of Sonic fan fiction? Perhaps. But even if I don’t, I’m still immensely proud of what The Age of Steam managed to accomplish – not only for charity, but also for my own self-belief as a writer.
Download: Sonic – The Age of Steam (PDF)*
*Includes a complete collection of fan art inspired by the project for Sonic Relief 2011